The morning after my tight chest and loss of breath I woke up with the same tightness and fluttering of my heart. I checked my Oxygen, which was 84%, and heart rate was 127. This isn't too far out of line with expectations here, but up until now my oxygen was around 95% and my heart rate is typically close to 70. Even often joked that I was Nepalese at heart, calm, cool and always full of breath. This was not a good start to a day that was promised to be one of the most difficult. We were set to go up and over the Cho La, a 5,420 m (17,782 ft) mountain pass. It did not help that everyone we had encountered who had already gone over the pass in the opposite direction said that it was very challenging and they would not want to have to go down it- which is exactly what we were doing.
I can go up anything, I am strong and with a little patience I will get to the top of most things. Going down is a whole different deal. I do not love steep descents, most especially when the terrain is on loose rock, snow or ice. I had been dreading this day for some time now, so waking up with short breath and heart I felt an extra pang of terror. This is the first day where I genuinely did not know how I was going to do it.
So we started early and I began trying just about every spiritual/mental tactic I have learned over the years to help me get through. A mere 20-yards from the lodge I had to stop to catch my breath, I could feel my optimism quickly draining by the second. I was very quiet, if you know me you know that when I am quiet it means to stay away, give me space. One good thing about being a part of the group is that you can't actually quick. I even imagined myself like the Cowardly Lion, trying to turn and run but then the others grab my tail and pull me back, "no, no, no!!"
We walked up a shirt hill and came to a big open plain, entirely cornered by the mountain ridge... Seriously?! How the hell am I supposed to get over this?! When I think of a mountain pass I think of a parting in the mountains with a gradual walk in between, I don't think of picking the lesser of the massive 18,000+ foot mountains and climbing over it.
Luckily, and somewhat amazingly, as we got closer and closer to the behemoths my mood lifted. Not sure if my many mental tricks were finally working or if I just realized that I might as well laugh at this terrifying situation, but my life came back to me, and with that came my breath. As I like to say, my muchness returned- my joy came through and cracked the shell that had cemented itself over my chest, releasing all the energy back into my body. So as we began our ascent I reconnected with my positive, uplifting self, just enough to lift my ass up that ledge and entertain the guys in the process.
...Unfortunately though I knew I didn't need the support in getting up the mountain. So we got to the top (or what I had initially thought was the top) and I see what lay ahead. I didn't panic, I prayed. I knew somewhere in my possession there was a little angel charm that was given to me before I left. This was the moment, possibly above all other moments of this trip, that I needed this angel. I tore my bag apart- there are a million seams and spots where something this small could slip into infinity; my heart leapt when I found it. Though until now my prayers had been somewhat stoic, I often do this because I know that I (and everyone else) can do anything, so I don't want to make lazy prayers. "Give me strength", "give me lightness of foot not to slip and fall to my death", "give me humor to laugh at myself when I fall", blah blah blah because it clearly wasn't working.
Finally in my moment of desperation I asked for wings to get my down the mountain. I gained my inspiration from the birds flying happily up and down the mountain around me, flaunting their capabilities. So I made my prayer, put my little angel in my chest pocket close to my heart and readied for the journey over the pass and down.
The boys felt at total ease with what we were doing, even the porters who had 100 pounds on their backs and were in sneakers...Cowardly Lion visions returning... We were going up and down in short spits throughout the snowfield. You had to follow the narrow, slick path or you'd run the risk of falling into a crevasse. I was actually happy with my progress, despite my white knuckles. I was getting the sense that I could do it, regardless of my pace, but I think Deven, who was behind me, could feel my tension and lack of confidence. After about 15 minutes he tells me that at the next stop he would give me some lightweight crampons. I initially leapt for joy, then frustration at not knowing of this option to begin with, then my usual determination kicked in and I fought the option in an effort to prove that I could do it. I didn't want to take the easy way out, to cheat. But then I remembered that I suck at receiving assistance, and this was something I was working on this trip. I give, but I won't receive and this is never something to be proud of and something I've become more aware of recently. So I took the offer.
I put the crampons on and suddenly I was moving with the same ease and grace as everyone else. It. Was. Amazing. We came up the the true high point of the pass and I was high on life. I had my wings and felt like I could fly anywhere. Lesson learned: you can't ask and pray if you aren't willing to receive. Once we began the true descent I was so grateful, because it was really steep. If I hadn't had the crampons I would have been entirely paralyzed with fear. I would have made it down the pass but it would have been slow and miserable. You can fight through life tooth and nail or you can open up and receive some of the amazing gifts around you, either way you're living, one is just much easier.
Once we eventually made it down I could have run for days with the energy and sheer joy I had. Prayers are answered only when you believe them worthy of being answered, not because you asked something worthy, every prayer is a worthy prayer. Open yourself up and prepare to be amazing by all there is to receive. My life and career are based upon my spirituality and even I am continuously amazing by things I never thought possible, the common thread in these serendipitous moments is that they come when I am entirely open.
Chelsea M Latham
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally refer to me as a Reverend, because I had the need to speak so passionately about just about everything. Little did she know that some day I would build a business upon sharing the wisdom that I am so passionate about. So here you go, here are some bits and bobs of thoughts strung together for your enjoyment.